Medical Testament—Nutrition and Soil Fertility

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD, and Sir Albert Howard

Summary: In 1911 Britain passed its National Insurance Act, a law intended to “provide for the prevention and cure of sickness” of its citizens. Yet despite the bill’s aim, rates of chronic disease proceeded to explode in the country over the ensuing decades. While medical officialdom was at a loss to explain or prevent the events, in 1939 the 600 family doctors of Cheshire county gathered to issue a public “testament” naming both the cause of the new epidemics and the means of their reversal. The physicians, reflecting on nearly three decades of clinical experience, named malnutrition at the hands of industrially processed foods as the common cause of chronic disease while marveling at the “amazing benefits” of switching patients to a diet of nutrient-dense, organic foods. Two researchers instrumental in guiding the doctors to their findings were Sir Robert McCarrison and Sir Albert Howard, both of whom were invited to speak at the famous Cheshire meeting, as recorded here. In their speeches McCarrison and Howard articulate the basic principles of what might be called “ecological nutrition,” that the health of humans depends on the health of the foods they eat, which in turn depends on the health of the soil those foods are grown in and on. With the medical industry still baffled by the cause and prevention of chronic disease, the words of these farsighted researchers offer a blueprint for building true health and wellness in humankind, literally from the ground up. Originally published in New English Weekly, 1939.

Natural Versus Artificial Nitrates

By Sir Albert Howard

Summary: In this 1945 article from Organic Gardening magazine, Sir Albert Howard, father of the British organic farming movement, writes about the inherent inferiority of artificial soil fertilizers, specifically synthetic nitrates. He quotes the magazine New English Weekly: “It is always good to see the difference between natural and laboratory products emphasized, in recognition of the imponderable elements with which Nature endows substances, which can by no scientific skill be added to the synthetic product.” He also cites a study from an American university showing that “natural nitrates have something that the artificial lacks, and there is no completely adequate substitute for it in the field of [artificial] agricultural fertilizers.” Substituting crude imitations for Nature’s complex, synergistic compounds is a great way to destroy the health of soil and crops, he adds. Howard, the author of the classic book on organic farming An Agricultural Testament, was also the mentor of J.I. Rodale, the founder of Prevention magazine. From Organic Gardening, 1945. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 13.